Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lee: PVG-ATL on Delta 18

22APR2008: Shanghai, People's Republic of China to Atlanta on Delta flight 18 in Coach

After getting checked in, I got a lounge pass to the contracted departure lounge in Shanghai. Delta offers all Skyteam Elite Plus and Business customers a lounge pass and as a Delta Platinum, I am also a Skyteam Elite Plus.

I clear customs and immigration without issues even with the 1 day stay and head to the lounge. The lounge was overcrowded and unimpressive so I decided to tour the airport. I still had these damn souvenirs to get. I ended up finding a great deal in the duty free shop for Cigarettes for my step-mom and a liquor for me. Both cost 37.00 US but it would have been almost 90.00 to purchase them here locally. After an hour and no luck with the gifts, I found a sore irony - the single largest supplier of these damn tourist trap gifts (shot glasses, etc) does not have 1 store that I found to actually sell them to the same Americans they make them for!?!

Depressed, I decided to head towards the gate as I knew we would be boarding soon. I passed the flight crew as they were heading to the gate to board and the ones that knew I was on the return trip were asking me how the layover was and the ones (like pilots) that didn't know I was on the return flight had this puzzled, deja vu look on their faces as I had been in the cockpit before departure in Atlanta 2 days earlier. Boarding was uneventful and I was happy to find that Bonnie, the coach lead FA I had gotten to know earlier on the first flight, was working my section on the return. I did have to defend my row one time to someone trying to change seats but there was no issues after that. I was fortunate enough to try both meals offered at dinner - the beef and pasta - as they had extra provisions after everyone was served. I watched several movies and ended up falling asleep after the sun had set. Our flight plan was an extremely southern route: we went out over Japan, started crossing the Pacific around Tokyo, and entered US airspace at basically the Oregon / California border. The winds must have helped the flight out. Even though we had less pax on board and had winds in our favor, we were heavier at 651,000lbs and 33,000 gallons of fuel - a fact contributed to the outrageous amount of cargo stuffed in our belly. This has been one of the top cargo performers for DL since starting.

I wake up once with some good turbulence that my seat belt has to restrain me - I quickly go back to sleep getting rocked to dream land. After some much needed sleep, I wake up to find I slept through the breakfast service and the FAs were preparing to clear the trays from the others that had eaten. Bonnie, not missing a beat, saw that I had woken up and she asked me if I was ready for breakfast. I told her yes and she quickly came back with not only the tray of food, but also a split of sparkling wine and 2 extra OJs so I could have a morning mimosa. She kept me well liquored up the entire flight, which I found as a nice gesture! I forced myself to stay awake as I could not throw my sleep schedule off anymore because I had a full week's worth of work starting early on Monday. I hung out in the galley some more to keep from falling back asleep.

After a very long 15 hours, we touched down on 27L and taxied to E concourse gate 17. Our flight would continue to TLV later that night as E17 is the only gate in ATL that has the supplemental security screening required for the TLV flight. I got home and quickly went to bed at normal time and was ready for work without incident.

I had a great time on my crazy weekend trip and I am already planning my next destination!

Salt Lake City Apr.: Arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC)

22 APR08 Salt Lake City International, Salt Lake City UT (SLC)

The runway on which we touched down was very close to our gate, so it took just about a minute for us to make it to our gate at 2:11p. I waited my turn and deplaned. It felt good outside in this 55F weather; much warmer than I had expected.

We made our way to the car rental, got our car and departed the airport.

Salt Lake City Apr.: Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to Salt Lake City International, Salt Lake City UT (SLC)

CO2071 22APR08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to Salt Lake City International, Salt Lake City UT (SLC) 11:50a 2:09p XRJ N??102

Flight Time: 3:00
Seat Map

I greeted the flight attendant as I boarded and she said hello back. I made my way down the narrow aisle of this 1-2 configured leather seat airplane which is just about 6’ 2” in height. At 6’ 1” I had to actually lower my head as I walk through.

I found my seat and settled in as the boarding process continued. I was taking some notes and folded down my chair table to do so. Noticing it was messy, I went to the lav to find a napkin to clean it. As I did so, the Captain came on the PA, welcomed us onboard and said that our time from takeoff to touchdown today would be 3:00. That is a long time to be in an ExpressJet I thought.

Once back at my seat having completed my cleaning job, I noticed a lady and her two children getting settled. The lone flight attendant came over and said that they would have to move to row 7 as the row they were in did not have an extra oxygen mask. They complied and she helped them to do so.

A few minutes later another family of three entered the plane and sat in that open row. Here we go again, I thought. Well, not quite as the parent moved to a seat further back. Another family of three boarded; wow, lots of kids on this flight today.

My phone rang with the identity of an unknown number from the New York area. It was a friend of mine whom I had not heard from in ages. It was great to catch up with him in that short space of time.

It was way past our 11:50a departure time now and a few passengers boarded. Apparently they had been booked on the later flight and had stood by for this one and made it. One of them sat next to me at the aisle seat.

The flight attendant made an announcement to fasten seat belts and prepare for departure. She then came through and checked seat belts, then closing the door at 12:02p. She then played the safety demo instructions over the PA and did the demonstration as instructed by the female voice.

We pushed back at 12:05 and started our taxi at 12:08p with only one engine running. The other one started as the taxi continued. As we went past Terminal A, only an American Airlines (AA) MD-80 and a United Express CRJ-700 were at the gates.

As we inched nearer to runways 33R and L, I saw a Northwest CRJ-900 land and heading to the other side of Terminal A. Almost at that moment, the Captain told the flight attendant to take her seat for departure; she was already sitting.

Using runway 33R-15L, we took to the skies at 12:14p.

It was a hazy morning as we gained altitude and made a wide right turn and headed out. We had a little rough ride as we cleared the thick clouds over the airport and surrounding area.

I heard the 10,000’ ding and then the flight attendant gave her welcome aboard speech, advising about SkyMall, electronic equipment, joining the frequent flyer program. She also said that beer, wine or mixed drinks were 5.00 USD. There is no entertainment in this aircraft, so no mention was made of that.

Shortly after, a choice of a turkey or a ham sandwich was offered. They both came with a bag of potato chips mayo and a Milky Way bar. I chose the turkey sandwich which came with lettuce. I waited to eat my meal until the beverages followed a few minutes later.

It was 12:44p when the Captain announced that we were at our cruising altitude of 36,000’ with 2:30 minutes to go. He said the ride was smooth so he turned off the seat belt signs.

Offers for drinks came at 12:45p; I opted for Ginger Ale and water.

Thrash collection came at around 1:07p. I was quite tired so I went to sleep.

I awoke as we were descending into the Slat Lake City area. It was a beautiful day and it was great to see the mountains.

The Captain came on and said that the descent was going to be a little rough. It was not too bad though. We landed without issues and taxied in.

Salt Lake City Apr.: Leaving Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

I left the Presidents Club about 11:20a and headed for the gate. The boarding process had not started as yet, so I just waited. I looked around for my other colleagues and saw two of them close to the gate. I went over and said hello and sat with them. The fourth person in our party then came over and joined us.

We chatted as we waited, getting into a conversation about luggage. It was soon time for boarding. I noticed a lady with a kid strapped to her chest and one in a double stroller. I commented to my colleagues that there should be a law that a single mother cannot travel alone with two kids as it is so hard on them. She boarded first as she needed to do so. She was quite organized and quite efficient as she made her way down the jetway with the two kids.

I then boarded with two of my colleagues

New computer?

Well, as you know, I dropped this one back in October last year and have not fixed it as yet. It is getting pretty bad as the housing is now completely gone off the right hinge.

I'm actually considering getting that new NP 2133 Mini Note:
There is a British guy talking about it here at http://www.rm.com/HE/Products/Product.asp?cref=PD1164671, but he does not really say much.

Its competition is the Asus Eee PC at http://event.asus.com/eeepc/windows/specs.html.


Salt Lake City Apr.: Arriving Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

I made my way into the terminal and cleared security with ease. A guy had walked away from his bag without realizing it, so I asked whose it was and he held up his hand from behind security and I just pushed it through for him.

I headed for the train to Terminal B as I was at B68. I had not realized that they had built out parts of the gate 84 area so much to accommodate for the CRJs operated by Chautauqua Airlines dba Continental Express.

Once in Terminal B, I made my way to the Presidents Club where I had breakfast and logged into work.

Salt Lake City Apr.: Off to the airport

It was 7:52a when I awoke. This was about 35 minutes later than I had planned. I got ready and headed out so I could catch the 8:30a bus. I arrived at the bus stop at 8:32a, luckily the bus was late in arriving. About two minutes later, it arrived.

At 8:50a, we pulled into the connecting stop downtown, right on time. I could see a TSA employee at the stop, which meant the bus had not yet arrived [I later found out he was a bus driver :-)]. After a short wait, the next bus to show was the 102 to the airport.

It was an uneventful ride and I managed to stay productive. There was a lady on the bus that talked the entire ride quite loudly. Just useless junk. She even continued talking after we arrived at 9:54a. She then went to the smoking area and had a cigarette still with the phone glued to her ear. This is why cell phones should be banned on airplanes...

Salt Lake City Apr.: Duty calls

I have to take a trip to Salt Lake City, UT (SLC) for work so off I go.